PaleoNews #7

Hey guys! Welcome to PaleoNews #7! Just to let you know, PaleoNews and Terrific Tetanurae! will alternate each week, with non-series related posts posted anytime!


This year has been great for ichthyosaurs! We have had the description of two new ichthyosaurs in two months! The new ichthyosaur, Ichthyosaurus anningae, is named after notorious fossil collector and scientist Mary Anning, who first discovered ichthyosaurs in the cliffs of Lyme Regis, England. The type specimen had been sitting in the collections of the Doncaster Museum for 30+ years unnoticed until Dean Lomax, the first author of the description of I. anningae, which was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, restudied the specimen. Dean explained that he noticed a few features present in the Doncaster specimen not present in any other Ichthyosaurus species, and so he began to suspect he was looking at a new animal. Dean added that out of the thousands of specimens he and his colleagues examined, only 4 others had distinct features matching those of the Doncaster specimen. In fact, one of the 5 I. anningae specimens known to science was discovered by Mary Anning! The scientists also explained that they were able to find possible sexual dimorphism between the specimens of this new ichthyosaur!

Talk about a year for marine animals! Along with the new Fur seal Eotaria, two new species of ichthyosaur, the 4 species of possibly aquatic snakes, the fish Janusiscus, a new fossil of the semiaquatic reptile Philydrosaurus, and now 3 new Caiman species from the Miocene of the Amazon! Gnatusuchus pebasensis, Caiman wannlangstoni, and Kuttanacaiman iquitosensis hail from the Miocene of Amazonian Peru. At this time, the Amazon river had not formed and the area now known as the Amazon rainforest was a vast expanse of wetlands, where many different animals co-existed. It is especially hard to find and extract fossils from this area because, well, you know, it’s a JUNGLE for Pete’s sake! Because of this unfortunate obstacle, the fossil record from the Amazon rainforest area is relatively poor, and so these new fossils are key to reconstructing the biota and environment of Miocene Amazonia. Of these new Caimans, Gnatusuchus was particularly strange, sporting a flat, rounded head  armed with stubby teeth, which were most likely used by Gnatusuchus to dig up and crush the shells of unlucky mollusks. The other two animals were similar in shape to modern Caimans.

Sophie the Stegosaurus gets a mass estimate! The worlds most complete Stegosaurus specimen, which is displayed at the London Museum of Natural History is estimated to have weighed around 1,560 kg, around the size of an adult hippopotamus.


On DINOSOURS!, Ben talks about museum exhibits who’s layout is based on the phylogenic relationships between animals and casts of bones being displayed in museum exhibits. You can find those posts here and here. At ArchosaurMusings, Dave Hone interviews the artist behind the animals featured in the Walking With series. You can find that post here. At dinosaurpalaeo, Heinrich takes us through the step-by-step process of making a hyper-detailed computer model of a fossil specimen (which he has given me permission to showcase along with the original specimen)! You can find that post here!


… or two?!?

This week we have Heinrich Mallison’s awesome computer model of a Khaan specimen along with the original photograph!

scaling_02 oviporn_01

You can find the post at his blog A big thanks goes out to Heinrich for allowing me to showcase his model. Remember, if you would like to showcase your artwork or photograph here, leave a message in the comment section below and we will see what I can do!

Thanks for reading PaleoNews #7!

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